In addition to his work with Grammer, Sher produced “The Michael Vick Project,” a reality series with the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback for BET, and the “Road to Redemption” reality series with rapper T.I. for MTV.
While Vick and T.I., whose real name is Clifford Harris Jr., are thriving professionally at the moment, neither was exactly a can’t-miss client or partner at first.
“Road to Redemption” features T.I., who was about to go to prison on a federal weapons charge himself, interceding in the life of a troubled teenager each week. It was the first TV show Sher produced.Vick saw “Road” while he was in prison for running a dog-fighting operation. And upon his release in 2009, he called Sher.
“I got a phone call out of the blue from Michael Vick who had been out of prison three days,” Sher says. “Didn’t know him, had never met him. He said, ‘I saw your show while I was in prison, and I want to tell my story in the same tone, in the same way. I called T.I., and he said you’re the man I have to talk to.’”
Sher says he was skeptical but instantly flew East to meet with Vick.
“I flew to Washington Dulles on Memorial Day weekend three years ago,” Sher remembers. “I rented a car, drove 300 miles to Hampton, Virginia. All the news media crews were out there, and I knocked on the door, and Michael Vick answers in shorts, T-shirt and an ankle bracelet.”
Sher says they sat on a back porch and talked into the night while mosquitoes ate them alive.
“He basically said to me, ‘I completely ruined my life. I had more than $100 million, I had endorsements, I was an all-pro quarterback of the [Atlanta] Falcons— and I lost it all. I’ve got nothing. I owe more money to more people than I even know — creditors, bankruptcy. So, I’d like to tell my story.’”
“I saw his two very young daughters crawling around, and he was a dad like me,” says Sher, the father of a 10-year-old boy, Jake, and 8-year-old girl, Samantha. “Obviously, what he did was horrible and wrong, and he knew that and acknowledged that. But he wanted people to know where he came from and how and why this unfolded in his life.”
Calling Sher a “great friend,” Vick says the relationship was cemented that first night as well.
“You know, I just thought coming out of prison, a lot of people would be hesitant,” Vick said in a telephone interview last week. “But he was one of the first people that showed a great deal of commitment and helped me turn my life around.”
To Vick, it seemed as though Sher arrived in Virginia from California only hours after they first spoke. He was impressed with Sher’s “great drive and ambition.”
“That’s what you have to like about him: his dedication and commitment,” Vick said. “His dedication to our friendship means a lot to me.”
T.I. says his film and TV career might not have happened without Sher in his corner.
“He's been going hard for me from Day One,” the actor-rapper said last week of their six-year relationship. “People wonder how I got into ‘American Gangster,’ or how I got in ‘Boss’ with Kelsey Grammer and all the other phenomenal opportunities in film and television I've gotten. The answer is that Brian’s been a huge part of all of it. He's been an incredible instrument.”
Judging by the first three episodes of season two of “Boss” made available for preview, T.I. has repaid Sher’s confidence in his TV talents. He brings energy and a strong screen presence to the role of a Chicago drug dealer looking to find political power in Kane’s city hall.
Sher doesn’t work with anyone he doesn’t “believe in,” T.I. says. “But once he's in with you, he goes to the ends of the Earth, man. And there's nothing he won't do to get you to where he believes you have the potential to be. He just goes all out.”
That’s another thing Sher says he learned in his journey from the William Morris mailroom to owning his own agency: the kind of 24/7, there-are-no-days-or-nights-off commitment it takes to succeed in Hollywood.